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Vote Amid Tight Security, Indonesia Elections Witness Higher Youth Participation

“All respectable polling are indicating a similar result which will be a reasonable victory for the incumbent and while the challenger did very well in the last debate I’m not sure that will be enough to change the game,”

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Elections
Indonesian election workers dressed in superhero costumes register voters at a polling station in Surabaya, April 17, 2019. VOA

Indonesians voted in national and regional elections Wednesday with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo widely expected to win a second term. However, late reports suggest his winning margin could be much smaller than anticipated.

Security was tight but friendly around Tamon Suropati, a leafy park in the plush suburb of Menteng, home to former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, as voting began under clear blue skies.

“Today, the election, I feel like Hari Raya, it means a big, big day for us,” said 69-year-old Enny, who voted alongside her twin sister for the incumbent, Widodo.

Paul Mirully a 43-year-old taxi driver, added: “For my choice in a president, No. 1 is good. Royally, religiously and for the prospects of Indonesia it’s very good, sir.”

Incumbent President Joko Widodo and his wife, Iriana Widodo, display their inked fingers after casting their ballot at a polling center during the presidential and legislative election in Jakarta, April 17, 2019.
Incumbent President Joko Widodo and his wife, Iriana Widodo, display their inked fingers after casting their ballot at a polling center during the presidential and legislative election in Jakarta, April 17, 2019. VOA

Turnout a factor

For many it was a family day out. Adhi Rasjid, a 48-year-old mining executive, said voting was smooth despite concerns over “golput,” a term used to describe deliberately spoiled ballots and voters who abstain, particularly among millennials.

“I think the turnout for the younger voters are increasing now, compared to say 10 years ago. I think the issues are more relevant. So I hope they take a bigger part in our democracy,” Rasjid said.

There are 60 million voters younger than 30, and surveys have indicated that many could abstain and skew the final result. But retired three-star general Ian Santoso Perdanakusuma told VOA voting had gone well.

“I am happy, everything is very good for Indonesians,” he said. “I haven’t seen any, any movements against the security. I’m happy that it will be good in the next year and the next five years, I hope.”

Voting numbers peaked around 11 a.m. local time, and counting got underway at 1 p.m. after polling stations closed, with a clearer picture of the results expected to emerge later in the evening. Official results were not expected to be known for several weeks.

Presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto shows off his ink-dyed finger after casting his vote in Indonesia's general election at a polling station in Bogor, April 17, 2019.
Presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto shows off his ink-dyed finger after casting his vote in Indonesia’s general election at a polling station in Bogor, April 17, 2019. VOA

Clear favorite

Jokowi went into this poll as the clear favorite, carrying a 20 percentage point lead over his rival, Prabowo Subianto, following five years at the helm where he was praised for delivering on badly needed big ticket infrastructure projects and a national health scheme.

The pair had squared off in five nationally televised debates with most political pundits judging the contest about even and analysts say Jokowi needs to win with a comfortable margin of 8-10% if he is to avoid protests and legal challenges by the opposition camp.

Prabowo has already raised the prospect of “ghost voters” and potential rigging in the fifth ballot to be held since the downfall of President Suharto in 1998 and the outbreak deadly protests across the archipelago of more than 18,000 islands.

“Everybody who loses, pro-forma, takes their case to the constitutional court and then they accept the verdict afterwards. I see no reason to see anything different this time,” said Kevin Evans, director of the Australia-Indonesia Center.

“People like to talk about Armageddon kind of outcomes here. They’ve been predicting violence at every election since I’ve been here and the only violence was during the pre-democratic period. In the democratic period, it hasn’t been the case,” he added.

There were reports that voting was stopped in two districts in the troubled far eastern province of Papua, where residents were arguing with police and ballot papers unavailable.

People look at a list of electoral candidates during elections in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 17, 2019.
People look at a list of electoral candidates during elections in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 17, 2019. VOA

Speculation online

And as the polls closed and early counting began, online speculation was rampant that Prabowo had performed better than expected, with one tweet claiming he expects to win 63% of the popular vote. Another said the Jokowi camp expected to win by a margin of 2-3%.

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However, analysts cast doubts on those figures.

“All respectable polling are indicating a similar result which will be a reasonable victory for the incumbent and while the challenger did very well in the last debate I’m not sure that will be enough to change the game,” Evans said. (VOA)

Next Story

New AI can Reduce Risk of Suicide Among Youth

AI can help prevent suicide among youth

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suicide
Researchers from USC developed an AI that can prevent suicide risks among youth. Lifetime Stock

In a bid to help mitigate the risk of suicide especially among the homeless youth, a team of researchers at University of California (USC) has turned their focus towards Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Phebe Vayanos, an associate director at USC’s Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society (CAIS), and her team have been working over the last couple of years to design an algorithm capable of identifying who in a given real-life social group would be the best persons to be trained as “gatekeepers” capable of identifying warning signs of suicide and how to respond.

“Our idea was to leverage real-life social network information to build a support network of strategically positioned individuals that can ‘watch-out’ for their friends and refer them to help as needed,” Vayanos said.

Vayanos and study’s lead author Aida Rahmattalabi investigated the potential of social connections such as friends, relatives and acquaintances to help mitigate the risk of suicide.

“We want to ensure that a maximum number of people are being watched out for, taking into account resource limitations and uncertainties of open world deployment,” Vayanos said.

Youth suicide
The AI algorithm can improve the efficiency of suicide prevention trainings. Lifetime Stock

For this study, Vayanos and Rahmattalabi looked at the web of social relationships of young people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles, given that 1 in 2 youth who are homeless have considered suicide.

“Our algorithm can improve the efficiency of suicide prevention trainings for this particularly vulnerable population,” Vayanos said.

An important goal when deploying this AI system is to ensure fairness and transparency.

“This algorithm can help us find a subset of people in a social network that gives us the best chance that youth will be connected to someone who has been trained when dealing with resource constraints and other uncertainties,” said study co-author Anthony Fulginiti.

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This work is particularly important for vulnerable populations, say the researchers, particularly for youth who are experiencing homelessness.

The paper is set to be presented at the 33rd Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) in Vancouver, Canada, this month. (IANS)